Journeyman Bike Commuter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alexandria, VA
Bikes: '88 Fuji Saratoga, '12 Jamis Sputnik, '13 Motobecane Fantom29 HT, '16 Motobecane Turino Pro Disc, '16 Motobecane Gran Premio Elite
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For children's bikes, we always sought out the best price, since quality is largely irrelevant. I think that we bought them from Toys'R'Us and maybe Target.
For older kids' first MTBs for light trail and street use, we bought them from Sports Authority at closeout prices.
My current MTB I bought from an on-line seller.
For anything adult for serious road riding, I'd use Craigslist without question.
I bought one bike from a chain bike store in 2009 - my experience was okay - particularly the time that they spent setting it up and watching me ride on the trainer until the adjustment/stem swaps were as close as we could get it.
Unlikely I'll ever buy a bike from a bike store again, though. Too expensive for what you get. Sometimes I'll buy tubes, rim strips, or tires through the bike chain store - but only on sale and during the Tuesday noon 10% off times. Otherwise, better deals can be found...the goal being to minimize costs of all consumable items. Stainless inner cables in bulk from Hong Kong, brake pads in bulk through eBay, lined housings by the foot for several projects at once.
I do all of our mechanical work, though, so don't need my LBS for repairs.